Mstation Classical Reviews

Valid RSS pre Dec 04 reviews are here

Mon, 30 Oct 2006


American Classics - Aaron Copland
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Joann Falletta
CD, Naxos

Founded in 1935, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has performed great works throughout its lengthy career. Here, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta; one of the greatest conductors of her time, the orchestra produce a landscape beneath your feet with precise percussion and wind, and warm, energetic string and brass sections.

Opening with Prairie Journal, we are immediately presented with a hive of activity. The music resonates with Copland to the core, opening up a whole world in front of your eyes; referred to as "Copland's out-doorsy cachet" (E. Yadzinski). (The piece was renamed after a competition held in America for the public to write sub-titles to the music. The winning entry was entitled Saga of the Prairie.)

We move on to Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes - 1942). Filled with contrasting colours and themes, it reminds me of the writing style of a composer friend of mine. A mixture of excitable, reminiscent, dancing, and expansive themes offers a great range of emotions and listening material. The ever popular Hoe Down completes these four episodes for a very enjoyable 18 minutes of listening.

Letter From Home is beautifully performed. Copland writes very sentimentally and nostalgically in this work. Using a common theme throughout, his orchestration is both unusual and typical, particularly his use of dissonant harmonies showing his happiness in developing his harmonic style. Copland's words say it best;

"It's very sentimental, but not meant to be taken too literally - I meant only to convey the emotion that might be naturally awakened in the recipient by reading a letter from home."

The Red Pony - Film Music suite (1948) is Copland showing his roots. Taken from Copland's own score of the film of Steinbeck's novel of the same name, this suite was aimed at children, a suggestion by Copland himself; it uses folk-like themes as all are original and offers great emotional variety, which is portrayed by the Buffalo Philharmonic exceptionally well. They really are amongst the greatest orchestras of our time, conducted by one the great conductors of our time.

This is an excellent musical education on American music without even realising you're learning. (E Walton)

[] permanent link